This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V22", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Not knowing whether you accept items from unknown people, but thinking that perhaps what follows might interest some of your readers, we have ventured to mail it to you.
Our text, we would quote from Loudon's Encyclopedia: "Steam affords a simple and effectual method of heating hothouses." Also, "The disadvantages of steam, as a vehicle for conveying heat to hothouses, are few." We presume that the old gardeners and horticulturists generally will smile at our verdancy, but " the proof of the pudding," etc., is very apt.
We have about 10,000 square feet of glass, which is heated by a twenty-eight horse-power steam-boiler, of a cast iron, sectional pattern, called the "Exeter boiler," made at Exeter, N. H. We chose this as it seemed to be best adapted for our purpose, admitting of being easily made larger or smaller. Being somewhat afraid of heating wholly by steam, we laid 4-inch pipes, the same as for hot water, and connected with cast-iron heaters or boxes filled with steam pipes, which were connected with the boiler. The steam passes from the boiler through the pipes in the heaters and back to the boiler again. The 4-inch pipes are filled with water, as is also the space around the steam pipes in the heaters. Our fire is regulated by a steam damper, and as we never need carry a pressure of over five pounds of steam, there is no waste of coal and no danger of explosion. We obtain our heat much quicker than by the old method. We have also two houses heated wholly by steam, which works, so far as plants are concerned, full as well as those heated by the 4-inch hot-water pipes.
As to economy, we burned last season five tons of coal to 1,000 square feet of glass, which is better by three tons than any have done in this vicinity. If any of your readers have done better than this, let us hear from them. Anybody interested wishing further information, we shall be happy to give all we know.
[Hints like these from practical experience, from any friend of horticulture, are always welcome. - Ed. G. M].